Karate chopped

Seven On Your Side
July 10, 2009 9:46:45 PM PDT
The karate student was knocked down by painful nerve damage in her feet, unable to continue her martial arts training. But good luck getting a refund from her school, one of the largest mixed martial arts schools in our area. "I miss it. I miss it alot. It was, it really became a passion for me." And Deborah Johnston has the belts to prove it. The Northport resident practiced karate at her local Tiger Schulmann's for years. She went from beginner's white belt all the way up to brown, one step from the coveted black belt.

"It took me four years... alot of blood sweat and tears." For Deborah, the tears came last fall, when injuries to both feet, knocked her out.

"By 9:00pm that night, I was in such pain my husband had to take me to the hospital." Deb's diagnosis? Painful nerve damage in both feet. Only an operation could stop it. Her karate days were over. "It was heartbreaking. I have accepted it and now I would like my refund."

Tiger Schulmann's refund policy is like most fitness contracts. If Deborah couldn't work-out due to medical reasons, she had to submit a doctor's note to get a refund for classes she pre-paid for, but couldn't attend.

Last March, she brought her doctor's note to her local Tiger Schulmann's and was told it would take 6 to 8 weeks for her to get a refund. But 14 weeks later, Deb says, "I haven't gotten a check, no."

So we called the local Tiger Schulmann's location. They didn't return our calls. So Tappy Phillips went there with a cameraman.

Tappy: "We're inquiring about Deborah Johnston. She's been waiting for a refund for months. So can we do something about it? Get her refund?

Tiger Schulmann's local manager: "We already have it. It's in the mail. It's in the mail."

Tappy: "Oh really? When was it sent out? It was probably sent yesterday."

And why did it take months for a refund? The manager said she needed the extra months to calculate the amount of the Deb's refund.

Tappy: "No explanation as to why it took so long?"

Tiger Schulmann's manager: "No, I'm sorry. I don't have a comment right now."

But it turns out the check was not in the mail as the local manager said. So we went above her head and called Tiger Schulmann's corporate office. And a day later? "I got the check!" screamed Deb.

Tiger Schulmann's corporate office apologized for the delay saying it's never received Deb's original request for a refund until after we called. And finally, issued Deb a check for more than $1100.

Deb was relieved, "I don't think I would have gotten it if you guys hadn't come into play. So thank you Tappy."

In Northport, Tappy Phillips, Channel 7 Eyewitness News.

Produced by: Steve Livingstone